It’s time to hear what the people say! Feedback is being sought on a major new plan for a more prosperous future in the Waikato.
The Waikato Plan was signed off last month for public consultation in a strong display of regional unity. It followed extensive discussion between councils, government agencies, iwi and stakeholders.
Submissions from all sectors of the community are now being sought to ensure an even wider range of views is taken into account.
“The Waikato Plan is designed to be a catalyst for a step change in regional social and economic performance. Enabling councils, business, community funders and others to speak with one voice on key issues in discussions with the likes of central Government,” said Margaret Devlin, independent chair of the joint committee which approved the Plan.
“Having the views of the wider community will help us ensure that voice best represents our region’s thinking.”
 Five high-level priorities have been identified in the Plan as the most important issues and opportunities facing the region:
– planning for population change (growth and decline)
– connecting communities through targeted investment
– partnering with iwi Maori
– addressing issues around the allocation and quality of water
– advancing regional economic development.
The top ten actions suggested to support these priorities are:
1. Collaborate on a regional development strategy
2.  Identify the regional priorities for service and technical infrastructure
3.  Identify how central government services can be provided to match community needs
4.  Advocate on behalf of regional transport priorities
5. Integrate Waikato and Auckland transport networks
6. Encourage development of a nationally significant cycling and walking experience
7. Establish a freight and logistics action group
8. Work collaboratively to develop and encourage enduring partnerships that enable iwi/Māori aspirations to be achieved
9. Develop the Waikato as a “Waters Centre of Excellence”
10. Assist in implementing the current Waikato Means Business economic development strategy.
The plan’s public submissions period opened on Friday 10 March and will close on 10 April. The submission form, the draft Waikato Plan summary and the draft full Waikato Plan is be available at www.waikatoplan.co.nz/
(external link)
Once submissions close, public hearings are due later in April and early May, with implementation of the final plan due to begin in August.